Despite gains, Phoenix falls in ranking of energy-efficient cities

Phoenix made improvements in energy efficiency, with program encouraging the use of low-energy lightbulbs for example, but not enough to keep from falling in a national ranking of cities. (Photo by Michael Smith via flickr/Creative Commons)

WASHINGTON – Phoenix has made improvements in its energy efficiency policies but still fell three spots in a national ranking, as other cities made “impressive jumps” and surged ahead, according to a report released Wednesday.

The second biennial ranking by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy of the largest 51 cities in the nation saw Phoenix slip from 15th to 18th place, despite finishing among the leaders in some areas rated by the council.

“Phoenix is still pretty strong,” said ACEEE research analyst David Ribeiro. “It’s doing well in various places being a leader in energy efficiency and local government operations.”

Falling Phoenix
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked 51 cities’ energy efficiency in five areas. Phoenix got 44 points out of 100, dropping from 15th place two years ago to 18th today. The city’s scores:

  • Local government operations: 11.5 of 15 points
  • Communitywide initiatives: 3 of 10
  • Building policies: 11 of 29
  • Energy and water utility policies: 9.5 of 18
  • Transportation policies: 9 of 28
    Overall score: 44 out of 100 possible
  • But Ribeiro said Phoenix could not keep pace with impressive gains by other cities such as Washington, D.C., which jumped from seventh to third overall in the rankings. Despite those gains, Ribeiro said most of the cities still have room for improvement.

    He was one of several authors on a Wednesday conference call to release the report. The authors said that energy efficiency is crucial to city life and helps create jobs within the community.

    The report rated the 51 largest cities in the country in five categories: energy and water utilities, building policies, transportation policies, communitywide initiatives and local government operations.

    Boston finished first overall with 82 points out of 100. Phoenix got 44 points out of 100 this year, just slightly better than its overall score of 43.5 points in the last ranking two years ago.

    Phoenix’s best performance was in the local government operations policy category, where its score of 11.5 out of 28 points tied the city for first place with New York City and Denver.

    Those three cities were cited for their policies to improve energy efficiency in city government, procurement, and asset management.

    Ribeiro said Phoenix saw its biggest gains in transportation policies, where its scores improved from 5.5 to 9 points out of 28 in the 2013 report.

    The report noted that in 2015 Phoenix achieved its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent below the 2005 levels. According to the report, the city still wants to apply energy-efficient measures including building retrofits that ensure the maintenance and conservation of buildings.

    In other areas, however, the city had room for improvement. In the ranking on communitywide initiatives, for example, Ribeiro said Phoenix could benefit from having an energy saving goal for the community as a whole and not just for the local government.

    Officials with Arizona Public Service did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the report Wednesday. But a Tucson Electric Power spokesman said utilities regulated by the Arizona Corporation Commission, like his and APS, provide programs to help customers save energy and cut their utility costs.

    “We support these policies because our customers love them, it helps them to save energy,” said Joe Barrios, the TEP spokesman.